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What happened to the New York Jets offense in Cincinnati?

Sam Darnold
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Michael Nania looks back at the Jets offense’s highly disappointing six-point effort in a Week 13 loss to the winless Cincinnati Bengals.

The New York Jets had breathed life back into what was becoming a nightmare of a season. Following a 1-7 start, the Jets rattled off three straight wins, claiming victory by a margin of three-plus scores in each of the latter two.

Sam Darnold finally got into a groove, and the offense followed suit. Darnold posted a 117.2 passer rating over the winning streak, while the offense averaged 29.3 points per game.

Next up on the schedule? A date with the 0-11 Cincinnati Bengals in southwestern Ohio. The table was set for the Jets to win a fourth consecutive game for the first time since 2015.

Alas, that was not meant to be. The Jets went into Cincinnati and put forth one of their most dreadful performances of the decade, falling by a score of 22-6 to give the Bengals their first win. It was the second time in a five-week span that the Jets lost to a winless team, having been defeated by the 0-7 Dolphins in Week 9.

A good portion of onlookers was of the belief that Darnold’s poor performance was the primary reason that the Jets scored a measly six points. He averaged just 5.0 yards per attempt and posted a 71.4 passer rating, snapping his three-game stretch of sublime production. Other facets of the offense surely got their share of criticism, but as the starting quarterback behind it all, Darnold got the brunt of the blame.

When you dive into the film, it is clear that Darnold was far from the problem. In fact, the Jets’ lack of offensive production was the fault of nearly every other person on the offensive side not named Sam Darnold.

I analyzed Darnold’s individual performance against the Bengals in detail here. Today, we will be delving into some of the issues around Darnold that led to the dreary offensive output in Cincy.

2ND & 7 AT CIN 28 (Q1, 10:01)

Drops were a major problem for the Jets in this game. Pro Football Focus tallied five of them.

The Jets were on their merry way to what would have been their sixth consecutive game with an opening-drive touchdown, but Braxton Berrios killed the drive with a brutal drop. Darnold takes advantage of the vacated space to his right, creating a wide-open throwing lane. He leads Berrios towards the sideline but Berrios flubs the easy would-be first-down catch.

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